Is Being a Good Mom Good Enough?
Every once and a while it happens–you have a moment of absolute clarity that will stick with you for a lifetime, or so you hope anyway because you really do deserve to have your memory serve you well when it comes to a moment of mommy uplift.
I had one of these moments the other day as I was loading my car, in the Target parking lot, full of goodies for my son’s birthday. As I situated the bags of blue-and-yellow construction truck wrapping paper, precurled ribbon to match, and the sunglass-wearing, singing-pig birthday card into the back of my little SUV, I found myself falling into a familiar thought pattern. “How lame I am! Do I have to start every (self-employed) work day late?!” Guilt, disappointment, and feelings of failure bounced around in that crowded head of mine.
And that is when the precious moment of clarity came. A very calm version of myself came to the fore and hit me over the head with an invisible 2×4: It’s not that I accidentally muck up the start of my workday because I just can’t get my act together: it’s because at a very deep level I will choose my kids over work and lots of other stuff too nearly every time.
Even though I work, even though I have hobbies, even though I want my friends to remember I exist and my husband to see me as attractive (if only I could find the time to blow dry this damn mop of hair), my number one priority is this:
BEING A GOOD MOTHER.
Like that, the most obvious reality of all dawned on me. Kids take energy, resources, and time and that means everything else in your life suffers a little. The sooner we moms stop holding ourselves to some expectation that we will be able to dot all the i‘s and cross all the t‘s in the nonparenting part of our lives, the sooner we can just embrace the chaos and see that being a good mom is good enough.
I may be falling short in every other category of my life or teetering on the edge of inconsistency on most counts most days, but what I truly felt comforted by in that moment of clarity was that at least I’m not a failure as a mom. Not even close. Sure, I feel guilty plenty and I mess up. I get grumpy, I feed them junk food, and I get them to sleep entirely too late. But my kids are happy–truly happy! They are loving, smart, curious, and kind.
I am giving them the childhood I would want them to have. And if that means I fall a little flat one day at work or I lose some “essential” productivity or I forget to respond to an email and that makes me look sloppy, then so be it. You can’t be everything to everyone and some priorities have to rise to the top. So from now on when I start to slip into the routine of criticizing myself for letting the house descend into chaos or my workday start too late or end too early, I will remember that that’s okay. It’s not by accident or poor self-control or stupidity. It’s because I want–at a cellular level–to put my little ones first.